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Updated on September 14, 2022

Enameloplasty - Procedure, Side Effects, Pros, Cons & Costs

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What is Enameloplasty?

Enameloplasty, also called odontoplasty or tooth contouring, involves trimming away small amounts of enamel from one or more teeth. 

It’s typically considered a cosmetic procedure that improves the shape or appearance of teeth, though sometimes it may be needed to accommodate a new dental restoration on the opposite arch. 

This procedure is most likely performed on front teeth that are chipped or uneven. The desired shape or length can be achieved by shaving away some of the enamel.

Enameloplasty can be done independently or as a part of placing a crown or veneer. It may also be performed with orthodontic treatment, such as braces.1

dentists assistant examining teeth of patient

Who is a Candidate?

Your dentist may perform an enameloplasty if you have:2, 3, 4

  • A chipped or fractured tooth, for example, due to trauma 
  • Uneven, pointy, or irregularly shaped teeth
  • A minor malocclusion (or misalignment)
  • Had orthodontic treatment
  • Enamel hypoplasia, a defect that can cause the enamel to have an irregular appearance
  • A veneer planned
  • If you have a new crown that is interfering with your bite 

Enameloplasty can buff away sharp edges and reshape a tooth to match the teeth around it. This can make it an important supplement to orthodontic treatment.

Enameloplasty Procedure

This procedure is simple and noninvasive and won’t take longer than 10 minutes. However, if you’re having further work done (such as veneer or crown placement), your time with the dentist may be longer.

Preparation

Your teeth may have some tartar buildup that could get in the way of shaving down the enamel. If this is the case, your dentist will clean the area before proceeding with the enameloplasty.

Enameloplasty is painless and doesn’t require anesthesia. There aren’t any nerve endings in your tooth enamel. Regardless, your dentist will aim to remove as little enamel as possible. 

During the Procedure

Your dentist will use special tools to sand away small amounts of enamel. These may include a fine diamond bur or a coarse polishing disc.2, 3

If you have multiple teeth that require enameloplasty, your dentist will generally work on one tooth at a time. They may use a very fine tool at the end of the procedure to give a final polish.2

Within 10 minutes, all of this should be done. You and your dentist can move on to any other dental work you need.

Recovery and Aftercare

There isn’t much of a recovery process for enameloplasty since it’s a quick and noninvasive procedure. You should be able to continue eating, drinking, and caring for your teeth like you normally would.

However, you may have a bit of temporary sensitivity, so you may want to be cautious with especially hot or cold foods.

Is Enameloplasty Permanent?

Essentially, yes. Enamel doesn’t grow back, so the removal isn’t reversible. You shouldn’t need to have enameloplasty performed more than once on the same tooth.

However, your dentist may find it necessary to perform enameloplasty in more than one session if you’re having other procedures done.

Potential Side Effects of Enameloplasty

Enameloplasty is intended to remove only a very small amount of enamel. However, the average thickness of tooth enamel is only about 2 and a half millimeters to begin with.5

This means dentists must be very careful with how much enamel tissue they sand away. If a bit too much enamel is removed, or if your enamel is worn down for other reasons, you may have:

  • Greater tooth sensitivity due to the layer under the enamel (dentin) being exposed
  • Yellower teeth, also due to exposed dentin
  • A higher risk of tooth decay because the enamel protects the inner parts of the tooth
  • The possibility of the remaining (thinner) enamel cracking or breaking in the future

For these reasons, you may not be a good candidate for enameloplasty if you already have a high degree of enamel wear. You can talk to your dentist about the condition of your enamel and how they plan to minimize these risks.

Does Enameloplasty Make Teeth Sensitive?

Enameloplasty may cause your teeth to feel more sensitive than usual for a short time after the procedure. It shouldn’t permanently heighten your tooth sensitivity, but it is possible if too much enamel is removed.

You should contact your dentist as soon as possible if you suspect something is wrong or are in pain following enameloplasty.

Pros and Cons of Enameloplasty

Pros

The primary advantages of this procedure include:

  • Improves the symmetry and overall appearance of your teeth 
  • Smooths out sharp edges that could cut your tongue
  • Allows the placement of veneers or crowns 
  • Generally doesn’t need to be performed more than once on a given tooth

Cons

The disadvantages of enameloplasty all stem from the fact that lost enamel can’t grow back. Your enamel is already thin, and losing too much of it could result in:

  • More sensitive teeth
  • Yellow teeth (the color of the dentin that sits beneath the enamel)
  • Cracks in the thinned enamel over time
  • Less protection for the inner parts of the tooth

How Much Does Enameloplasty Cost?

Enameloplasty may cost between $50 and several hundred dollars per tooth. How much work you need, your location, and your dentist’s experience can all affect the cost.6

You may not be charged if your enameloplasty is being performed as part of your orthodontic (braces) treatment.

Does Insurance Cover Enameloplasty?

Insurance doesn’t generally cover cosmetic procedures, which typically include enameloplasty. However, in cases where enameloplasty isn’t considered purely cosmetic, your insurance may offer full or partial coverage.

If you have a chipped tooth or are having a crown placed, your enameloplasty might be partially covered. Contact your insurance provider to be sure.

Summary

Enameloplasty, also called odontoplasty or tooth contouring, is a cosmetic dental procedure. It trims or smooths away small amounts of enamel to reshape one or more teeth.

Your dentist may perform an enameloplasty to reshape uneven or chipped teeth. It can also prepare a tooth for a crown or veneer. Talk with your dentist if you’re interested or concerned about this procedure.

6 Sources Cited
Last updated on September 14, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Ong, D. and L. Ton. "Interdisciplinary management of an adolescent patient with significant previous trauma to the upper incisors." Australian Dental Journal, 2015.
  2. Livas, Christos, et al. “Enamel reduction techniques in orthodontics: a literature review.” The open dentistry journal, 2013.
  3. "Aesthetic approach for anterior teeth with enamel hypoplasia." Contemporary Clinical Dentistry, 2012.
  4. da Cruz, Márcio K et al. “Odontoplasty associated with clinical crown lengthening in management of extensive crown destruction.” Journal of conservative dentistry, 2012.
  5. De Menezes Oliveira, Maria Angélica Hueb et al. “Microstructure and mineral composition of dental enamel of permanent and deciduous teeth.” Microscopy research and technique, 2010.
  6. How Much Does Tooth Contouring Cost?” CostHelper Health.
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